Monday, March 03, 2008

Psychic Rant

If you spend time on the internet, you know there are whackjobs at every turn ready to say something ridiculous. It's a fact of internet life, and being online means accepting that.

Nevertheless, every once in a while you come across something that strikes a nerve, so today I am elaborating on an exchange that took place regarding a psychic.

Some random internet person was in the middle of discussing something when he broke to express his outrage - outrage I tell you! - over a psychic who some friends consulted after their son had died. They were vulnerable, he said, and this psychic told them he had a special place in heaven taking care of animals. Typical bullcrap, he says.

his emotionally vulnerable parents went to a similar psychic who used the same method of collecting information before the "reading" and filled in the rest with the kind of crap you would expect from a horoscope. He told them that their son had a special place in heaven taking care of all the animals because he was so kind to them while he was on Earth. Who doesn't like to think of their departed loved ones as being kind to animals?

The unmitigated nerve. The raw audacity. How. Dare. They.

My response:

Are you really angry at the psychic your friend's parents went to for this? Psychics are legally prevented in most places from making claims about psychic ability. They have legal disclaimers stating "for entertainment purposes only." When someone in crisis goes to a professional psychic, what to you expect them to say?

People go to psychics because they want to believe something they have no proof of. They want confirmation of their hopes and protection from their fears. Are you angry at the psychic for telling them what they wanted to hear? What would have been the alternative? To say:

"I'm sorry, Mr. and Mrs. - but this psychic stuff is crap and you can forget about exploring any belief that will bring you peace. Some exceptions may or may not apply to officially sanctioned religions. Have a nice day."

People get so angry at psychics. Maybe psychics should just pull the "faith" card once and for all. If your friends had gone to a priest, a rabbi, etc who said the exact same things- or if Montel had one on his show, there wouldn't be so much umbrage.

Can you imagine? My priest told me my son was with God! How DARE he say that to a grieving parent?

This exchange highlights a number of issues with the nature and role of psychics that need elaboration, but right now there is a cat that WILL NOT get off the keyboard and so I'll have to do this in two parts.